Michel Lavigne – Owner/Publisher
Michel Lavigne is the Publisher and founder of The Valley Gazette. He was born and raised in North Bay, Ontario. His first stint in the newspaper industry was 40 years ago, when he delivered “The Nugget” newspaper to households all over the city. Michel eventually found himself in Barry’s Bay, where he held various jobs throughout the years. With a strong sales background, he decided to start up a weekly community newspaper for the Madawaska Valley in 2010, reflecting his strong support for the township and its neighbours. A boat and car enthusiast, Michel enjoys spending time with his wife Cathy. The two also run the store Valley Living, a home décor store located next to The Valley Gazette.
Robert Fisher – Staff Reporter
Robert Fisher comes to the paper from The Saint Croix Courier in Charlotte County New Brunswick where he was the lead reporter for the paper. Charlotte County is in the southwest corner of the province near the Maine border.
Fisher covered a wide range of stories, people and events in New Brunswick and has interviewed national and provincial party leaders, cabinet ministers and municipal officials. He covered day-to-day events and did in-depth reporting on important topics including housing, homelessness, LGBTQ issues, Indigenous matters and, prior to moving to the Gazette produced an eight-part series on the state of policing in New Brunswick.
Originally from Oshawa, ON, Fisher has lived in Calgary, Toronto and most recently New Brunswick. He moved to New Brunswick in 2020 and returned to Ontario this summer.
Fisher is an award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker. He has exhibited in the Contact festival three times and his films have won awards in international festivals. He has taught photography and is the author of three books on photography, all published by highly regarded publishing houses.
Derek Layman – Production Manager
Derek Layman was born and raised in Eganville, Ontario to Kerry and Colette Layman. He remained in the Valley for most for most of his life, attending St. James elementary school in Eganville and Opeongo High School in Cobden. After graduating in 2012, Derek decided to take a year off from school to make some money as a delivery driver for Boston Pizza in Pembroke, where he met his wife, Allison Layman. After his year off school, he moved to Ottawa where he enrolled in a Multimedia Developer program at Algonquin College and graduated in 2016. He struggled to find work in his field of study so he decided to take a job as an Aircraft Service Person in 2016, then a job in security in 2018. After living in the city for 5 years, Derek decided that the city was not the place he wanted to be and moved back to the Valley with his wife. During the moving process, he found and succeed in taking the Production Manager position at The Valley Gazette in September 2018. He now lives in Eganville with his wife.
Dan Conway – Armchair Athelete
Dan Conway was born and raised in Barry’s Bay and lived here until he moved to Ottawa in 1979 and has worked for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, until he retired after 34 years with the company. He is a sports junkie, having played hockey, baseball, football, broomball and fastball in his younger days. Now he enjoys playing golf and watching sports on TV. He has been with The Valley Gazette since the beginning, doing his Armchair Athlete column, the Athlete Profile of the Week, the hockey pool and covering hockey games. He is married to Toni, has two daughters, Leslie and Allie, and a granddaughter named Ava.
Helen Trader – Distribution
Helen Trader was born on a farm near the Homestead at Wolf Ridge Golf Course. Later, the family moved, and she grew up in nearby Killaloe. Afterwards, she attended Sir Sanford Flemming (now known as Fleming College) in Peterborough. After deciding family life was calling her, she changed her plans and left school with a business administration certificate. Helen married Gerard and the couple have four children together: Peter, Amanda, Melissa and James. She worked alongside her husband at his small business, Gerard Trader Custom Wood Products. She has also worked at Murray Brothers as an office clerk and then after raising her children, she took up various positions at other local businesses. In her spare time, Helen is an avid gardener, and enjoys spending time with her family.